Sustainable development goals (SDGs) and Pakistan By Mahar Munawar

Mankind had long been under the illusion that we are maters of nature. The truth has dawn on us that we are not masters, but dependents on nature for our socioeconomic and spiritual growth. Threatened by the unfolding climate-change, the human civilization is faced with unprecedented and realistic doom and gloom scenario not in too far future. We are now facing the deadly backlash from nature due to the destruction of the earth’s physical environment. There is belated realization that over exploitation of finite natural resources of mother Earth, has its limits and catastrophic consequences for the people and the planet. It has forced mankind to move away from the environment-unfriendly development approach to sustainable development model in harmony with Mother Nature that stands injured by human recklessness and callousness. The UN defines the sustainable as ”the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Sustainable development is a paradigm shift in global development concept and practice as it is premised on the need for a sustainable, inclusive and resilient future for planet and its inhabitants. This development idea seeks to synergies the three core interconnected elements: economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection. “When it comes to sustainable development…every country is a developing country,” aptly put by David Navarro, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change.
As the time frame for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)expired in 2015, the global community moved to build up on the MDGs by encompassing new environmental and development areas notably sustainable consumption, climate change, economic inequality, innovation, peace and justice. Thus, on 25 September 2015, the 193 countries of the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Development Agenda titled “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, through the Resolution A/RES/70/1. This post-2015 agenda comprises of 92 paragraphs. The Paragraph 51 lays out the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The SDGs are a diverse collection of 17 global goals, 169 targets and 230 indicators that officially came into effect on 1 January 2016.Over the next fifteen years, these Global Goals seek to end poverty, fight inequalities, and tackle climate change among other things. On 1 January 2016, SDGs of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development officially came into force. The SDGs require around $3 trillion a year for their implementation. Compared to the MDGs, the SDGs are much more comprehensive and inclusive with tri-dimensional focus on economic development, social well-being and environmental protection.
Apart from other multiple challenges, overemphasis on state security at cost of human security, governance issues and inadequate budgetary allocations for the achievement of SDGs have been a key impediment to the SDGs in Pakistan
While SDGs are not legal obligation, all stakeholders state and non-state actors are expected to lend ownership and devise the national frameworks for translating the 17 global goals into a tangible reality. Being a member of the UN, Pakistan is under obligation to implement and achieve the goals under the framework of the Agenda 2030. On 16th February 2016, the Parliament unanimously adopted the SDGs as the national development agenda. Further, it also established the Parliamentary SDGs Secretariat based at the National Assembly. To institutionalize 2030 Agenda, Ministry of Planning, Development & Reform (Moped), Government of Pakistan, Planning & Development Departments of provincial governments with the support of UNDP has rolled out a five years joint project of “National Initiative for Sustainable Development Goals”. In order to synergies efforts and coordination among federal and provincial ministries and subsidiary organizations, a Federal SDGs Support Unit has been formed at the ministry.
Notwithstanding the legislative and structural measures, the country continues to fare poorly on the ground as reflected by Pakistan’s low ranking on the HDI. Pakistan is ranked 150th among 189 countries surveyed in the UN’s 2018 Human Development Index measured by combining indicators of life expectancy, educational attainment and income. Poverty all aviation is the first and foremost goal among the SDGs. According to UNDP, 39 percent of Pakistanis (4 out of 10) are condemned to languish in multidimensional poverty, with the highest poverty prevalence in Baluchistan and erstwhile FATA region. In its report for 2017-18, World Justice Project put the country at number 105 out of a total of 113 countries reviewed on the basis of rule of law, absence of corruption and security. Pakistan Education Statistics 2016-17 show that 22.84mn (44pc) out of the total 51.53 million children, are out of school.
Apart from other multiple challenges, overemphasis on state security at cost of human security, governance issues and inadequate budgetary allocations for the achievement of SDGs have been a key impediment to the SDGs in Pakistan. In budget 2019-20, the country has allocated meager amount of Rs24m that is insufficient to meet SDGs targets that require massive public funding. Appreciation of human security role in national security calculus, sustainable economic growth, adequate funding and the localization of the SDGs and good governance are some of the critical measures needed to materialize the SDGs that will potentially push the country in the league of the upper middle-class countries by 2030.
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